Prefabricated Houses: timber-framed and prefabricated – what are the differences?

There are many different names for wooden construction terminology floating around the internet. It is confusing to understand how all those types differ. We call our construction method Offsite Manufactured Timber Frame elements (also known as prefabricated modular construction), but how it is different from a simple post and beam?

The answer is simple: timber frame – it is a loadbearing construction that is made from wooden studs. Offsite Timber Frame Elements/ modules – This is a full wall sandwich that consists of a timber frame itself plus all the external and internal layers. The offsite modular method is a more modern and smarter approach for timber frame construction available today.  With Offsite Manufacture, the produced elements are delivered to the site as insulated and externally finished walls and simply connected together with minimum time and effort.

Traditional Timber Frame. For this construction type wood is delivered to the site and joined together from scratch stud by stud. When the frame is finished all the other layers as windproof, ventilated façade, and cladding, as well as insulation and vapor barriers are fitted. This traditional technology is successfully replaced by Offsite for these reasons:

  • Very long construction duration;
  • Materials are exposed to weather conditions and may result in further imperfections of the whole building;
  • Materials are delivered to the site in standard preliminary guessed amounts, often causing excess or deficiency – which results in more waste and additional transportation costs;
  • Studs, beams, and other materials are cut on-site with simple tools and can cause discrepancies and unevenness. Sometimes expensive and good tools are used for such construction, however, the cost for having such tools on site is relatively expensive, also requires care and a secure storage place;
  • The results show only after a great amount of work is done and requires extra time and money if changes are desired.

Offsite Timber Frame. Elements are produced in a closed factory. Layers that are fitted on the wall before the delivery of the element are impregnated plasterboard or OSB for windshield and extra stability, Tyvek film for extra windproof, air gaps for ventilation, weatherboard, window trims, windows, mouse band, and others. For the internal side of the wall, we fit insulation, vapor barrier, and service battens. In such a complexion, the wall elements are loaded to the trailers for delivery. Unloaded from the trailer they are fully ready to be assembled straight on the foundation. Because of easy and fast construction, the walls are built up in 3 days (depending on the size of the house). The roof is closed in about 2 weeks. With simple roof designs sometimes, it is possible to design the roof in elements as well. In such a case, the roof works take even less time. When the house is closed from external exposure, the internal works can start.

The advantages of the Offsite Timber Frame method:

  • The use of modern technology in the factory allows for unique and complex designs;
  • Elements are manufactured according to the detail drawings, which ensures accuracy and quality;
  • Indoor manufacture is effortlessly controlled;
  • Material amounts are estimated in advance and result in less waste, which all together allows for optimal product price;
  • The majority of works are done in the factory with minimum mistakes;
  • Build-up is less complex, faster, and requires less machinery;
  • Elements are lightweight, but solid and strong;